Washington’s Legacy Project is releasing a new biography of Slade Gorton’s influential 50-year career in public service at the state and national levels
The volume, the latest in a series on some of Washington’s most fascinating personalities, is available in book form and is free online.
The book is entitled “Slade Gorton: A Half Century in Politics,” written by John C. Hughes, chief historian for The Legacy Project, an oral history program established by the Office of Secretary of State in 2008.
The book version was published by the Washington State Heritage Center and printed in the U.S. by Thomson-Shore.
A book launch event is being held Thursday at the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, 1414 NE 42nd St., Suite 300, in Seattle. The event begins at 5 p.m., with the program starting at 5:30 p.m. Media are invited to cover the book launch.
Program speakers include Hughes; Creigh H. Agnew, president of the Slade Gorton International Policy Center; Secretary of State Sam Reed; former Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans; and Gorton himself.
The book costs $35. It is for sale on the Secretary of State’s Online Store for $37.50, including shipping and handling. The Online Store is found here: http://www.sos.wa.gov/store/ . Printing of this book was made possible by generous gifts from private donors. It was not printed at public expense.
Evans, who served with Gorton in the state House of Representatives, in state government and later in the U.S. Senate, calls Hughes’ new book “a must read for anyone interested in public service or who cares about our political system.”
“This is a fast-paced, readable biography of one of the political giants of Washington state,” Evans said. “Slade Gorton for more than 40 years, served our state with brilliance and left an exemplary legacy of honesty and integrity.
“We worked as close teammates on many projects of vital importance to our state. I have always respected Slade’s analytical ability and thoroughly enjoy our friendship of 50 years,” Evans added.
Bob Kerrey, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska who served with Gorton both in the Senate and the “9/11 Commission,” said the book paints an accurate picture of the years when both worked together in D.C.
“Whether it was his work on the budget or other key legislation with fellow senators, or his objective and thoughtful contributions to the commission’s report on the most horrific terrorist attacks on American soil, I’ve long admired Slade’s sharp mind, consensus-building skills and desire to do the right thing,” Kerrey said.
“I believe in bipartisanship when it’s in the best interest of our nation, and this book shows that Slade does as well. John’s book retraces the path that Slade took to becoming a very respected and influential public servant in both Washingtons,” Kerrey added.
Hughes, who joined The Legacy Project in 2008 after retiring as editor and publisher of the Aberdeen Daily World, said interviewing Gorton and others for the book was an enjoyable experience.
“I first met Slade Gorton in 1966 when I was a young reporter covering the Legislature,” Hughes said. “Over the years, especially during the battle over Indian fishing rights and the controversy over the Northern Spotted Owl, I talked with him often. Still, when I started doing the research for his biography, I was stunned to discover the breadth and depth of his political influence. Nor could any biographer ask for more from his subject. He was an open book, warts and all, and never once attempted to steer or interfere.”
Gorton’s long political career began in 1958 when he was elected as a Republican to the state House of Representatives from Seattle’s 46th District. After serving in the House for 10 years, rising to the post of majority leader, Gorton was elected as state attorney general in 1968 and served for 12 years.
In 1980, he defeated longtime U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson. Gorton lost his U.S. Senate seat in 1986 to Democrat Brock Adams, but he returned to the Senate two years later, defeating Democrat Mike Lowry in an open race. Gorton left the Senate after losing a close and hard-fought battle with Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell in 2000.
Gorton was appointed in 2002 to the 9/11 Commission, which studied the terrorist attacks involving airliners that struck the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The commission issued its final report in 2004.
Gorton currently is serving as a member of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, which is redrawing the borders for Washington’s congressional and legislative districts. The commission is expected to release the state’s new political boundaries soon.
This is The Legacy Project’s fifth published book. The other four are on former Governor Booth Gardner, former first lady Nancy Evans, longtime political reporter and columnist Adele Ferguson and civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker. The Legacy Project also has oral histories on these five subjects, as well as political leader Jennifer Dunn, astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, former Supreme Court Justices Charles Z. Smith, Robert F. Utter and Carolyn Dimmick, and Grunge-rocker-turned-political activist Krist Novoselic. All are online.
The Legacy Project is part of the Office of Secretary of State. To learn more about The Legacy Project, go to its website at http://www.sos.wa.gov/heritage/LegacyProject/default.aspx .